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Old 05-19-2012, 01:23 PM   #211
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Originally Posted by ashleyt View Post
We just returned from our first cruise ever, the 5 day double dip Dream that sailed on March 27. I learned much from these forums, so I wanted to give back a little if I could. Our kids are 6 & 8.

Things that did not work for us:

1) Arriving early at port. Everyone, and I mean pretty much everyone did this. We were there at 1120AM, and the port was packed. We were concierge so they worked us through a massive crowd of people waiting to get photos. There was some subtle pushing. All in all, not a pleasant experience. We were on board by 1130AM, and the pools were filled with more than 30 kids each, and the aquaduck was lined up with a 60 minute wait. Cabanas was packed with tables very difficult to find. We got up to get some food, and our table was taken within seconds. We ended up standing by the drink fountain and eating.

Our rooms weren't ready so we checked in our gear with concierge, but even that was chaos with the lounge filled with wall-to-wall people. If we had just slept a little longer and had a relaxing lunch on the way and then boarded at about 2PM, this would have solved many of these problems.

There were lots of opportunities for swimming and trying the aquaduck later in the trip. I wish we had just had a relaxing lunch at McDonald's on the way and showed up at 1 or 2PM when the port was probably a wasteland and we could have boarded more leisurely.

2) The aquaduck was disappointing. It is a very average or even below average slide as far as thrills go. If your kids have ever been on any other waterslide, they will likely be disappointed with this. We tried it at a point when the wait was 15 minutes, and it was definitely not worth that wait. I wouldn't wait more than 5 minutes. Fortuntately there were lots of times early in the morning or around supper time when the lines were very short and the kids rode it a few times, but were quickly bored with it.

3) The ship was very crowded. I know, it's a cruise ship, but this was much more than we were expecting. Unfortunately, crowding tends to bring out the worst in many people including us. Bright-eyed friendly casual faces making eye contact or even saying hi to each other become serious, head-down, rushing people when the crowds start to get under our skin. Overall, not a pleasant atmosphere, but only a problem on the first day and at-sea day.

4) I wouldn't go to the sailing away party again. Too crowded, and nothing very exciting about it. When we realized this, we quickly retreated to our verandah where we enjoyed the sailing away much more in privacy.

5) I wouldn't make a big deal about going to the pirate party. Again, too crowded, and the kids didn't get much out of it, and much too late for our little ones. It was not worth it for us, but it was nice to see everyone get into the spirit.

6) Staying on the boat in Nassau. We had just been to Atlantis a few months ago, so we didn't see anything else that caught our eye as far as shore excursions. While we love to relax, there is a limit before we need to get up and do something with ourselves. There is not as much to do on the boat as I was led to believe. We filled our time with the detective game (it only takes about 30-45 minutes for each one if you take the stairs), various classes in lounge D including an animation class and towel folding, a scavenger hunt, some karoake, lots of exercise and a healthy dose of kids club for our little ones. However, if we did another cruise, I suspect we would not be up for another day like this as we prefer a little adventure and lots of the on board activities are sort of once and done.

7) Animator's palate. We hadn't planned on going to all the evening dinners but worked our plans around going to this restaurant based on the recommendations as a can't miss experience. It was chaotic and distracting with the cartoons, and ended up not being very good family time. The chaos made the kids unsettled and unfocused. They ate poorly. Our kids don't watch TV, so the characters on the screen were mostly meaningless to them. Perhaps if they knew who the talking turtle was, it would have been more exciting.

8) Concierge. We just didn't really use any of the services provided by concierge. We don't drink much, so happy hour was not a priority. We're not big eaters, and only eat at meal times, so snacks in the lounge were not useful. We're do it yourselfers when it comes to booking our free time, and don't like to pre-commit to shore excursions or feel overscheduled. We would probably just book a non-concierge room next time as the value was just not there. Also we tipped the concierge $100 on our last night, and one of the guys was visibly disappointed. I thought the tip was generous given how little we used their services. His reaction left a bad taste in our mouths.


Things that worked well for us:

1) Castaway Cay. Wow. What an island. Words can't even put it into perspective. An absolute can't miss.

2) Food. We are picky about food, especially for the kids. We were worried there would be too much junk. We were surprised with the array of choices and many healthy options. Very well done.

3) A verandah. We spent a lot of our boat time on our verandah, especially while the kids were sleeping in the evening or early in the morning. Bliss.

4) Swimming/waterslide in the early morning on non-CC days. Quiet and peaceful.

5) Kid's club. Our kids loved this. We had to keep it to 3 two hour visits as this was a family vacation, but they never wanted to leave.

6) Detective game. Our kids enjoyed this more than a little bit.

7) The gym. Great equipment and hardly anyone ever in there.

8) CC 5K. Lots of fun.

9) Slides, Jungle gym, bikes, sandcastles on CC.

10) Mini-golf. This was okay for us, but the kids seemed to really enjoy it. I won twice against my hubby, so he may not have enjoyed it as much.

11) Basketball. The kids had lots of fun shooting hoops.

12) Believe. Fantastic show. The other shows were okay. We wouldn't go see them again though.

13) Palo. A very pleasant dinner. I wouldn't say it is a must do, however. Easily skipped if you prefer more family time.


Overall, a great first cruise for us. It may be some years before we go again as there are many other things in the world we'd like to do, and only so much time we can take the kids out of school. Thank you to everyone here for all the advice. It made a big difference in our experience.
very interesting post!!

was the concierge lounge crowded throughout the cruise, or only on the first day?
when you say you were pushed through the crowd in the terminal, was it a cast member who pushed you through (led you through)?
did you use the concierge sun deck at all?

we're planning on getting off the ship at nassau just to check out the graycliff hotel (whatever it's called) and maybe some window shopping in the straw market..
we've already been to atlantis, so we don't have any interest in going there....but we will get off the ship for 2 or 3 hours just to break things up a bit..

interesting about animators palate....how was the menu there?
i've heard so many comments about it being terribly noisy....i hope my mom and sister aren't totally turned off by it....hmmm...
people have told me i should request it for the first night, but if it's so noisy, maybe i should request the royal palace for the first night......

i'm hoping to get remy for pirates night on our cruise..
not sure if we'll do palo dinner....we would have to miss a regular rotation to get to palo for dinner...maybe we'll just do the brunch there...
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Old 05-19-2012, 02:28 PM   #212
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I am wondering if anyone would let Disney do the flights again? We did our own last time during the last trip but this time flights are starting to come out for april 2013 and I dont think I can do the trip. ; ( so far one person is more than our whole cruise the first time and its just the flights.
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Old 05-19-2012, 03:27 PM   #213
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We'll be on cruise 7 this September
We have loved every one of them:

Things we would do again:
Desk 4 lounge chairs
play shuffleboard - forgot how fun it is
Take our adult beverages on board but still buy some favorites
Take over the counter medication - found out the hard way that you have
to go to the infirmary for everything but seasick mediction. DH was seriously constipated (TMI) but it was making him sick - costly - from now on we take mediction for the above problem, as well as pepto bismol for the opposite problem - aspirin - anything that may rear it's ugly head.
order the international cheese tray the first day and refridgerate to snack at will
Palo dinner
Palo brunch
order coffee at Coffee Cove every morning and have a card stamped for a free coffee after 5 (I think 5)
swim in the pools extra early - had the pool all to ourselves for an hour one morning last cruise. Waaaaaay wonderful
Stay on board at most ports
get off early at CC - it's great to snorkle and see Mickey before the sand kicks up
Take battery candle - romatic on verandah or nightlight in bathroom
Take a gift bag to servers and cabin attendant



Things we would not do again:
Go to a movie late - seating fills up fast for the better movies
Pirate night - good night for Palo or Cabanas - see only the fireworks
Play bingo - it was fun but if you don't win (we did not) it is expensive
Put up with the chair hogs - next time I will say something
Palo for lobster night - beautiful presentation for an extra dry lobster


Things to do for the first time:
Rainforest
Hoping to do the 5K (walking) at CC
Order two deserts at Palo (we LOVE two of them) and take one back to the cabin
Try the champagne or martini tasting
Aquaduck and minature golf on The Fantasy
Order room service Mickey bars and/or cookies with milk YUM
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Old 06-26-2012, 08:27 PM   #214
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Subbing for a great read! I got to page 4 and cant wait to finish reading later : )
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Old 06-26-2012, 09:11 PM   #215
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I would NOT get a service at the spa, I did not appreciate being told I was overweight and pushed to buy a product that I explained I couldn't use as we do not have a tub at home to soak in. I would have rather saved that money and gotten 3 massages at home!
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Old 06-26-2012, 10:44 PM   #216
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Something I would like to try next time:
Stay awake past 9pm to experience some of the night time activities
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Old 06-27-2012, 12:01 AM   #217
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MandNCC View Post
I would NOT get a service at the spa, I did not appreciate being told I was overweight and pushed to buy a product that I explained I couldn't use as we do not have a tub at home to soak in. I would have rather saved that money and gotten 3 massages at home!
OMG! How totally inappropriate. I'm a big girl and would be fortified if that occurred. I hare the hard
sell
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Old 06-27-2012, 02:26 AM   #218
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Things I would do:

1. Make it a point to see the adult comedy show. Two cruises and missed it both times!

2. Book the Hyatt again. Loved it!

3. Budget for onboard booking of subsequent cruises. Didn't build it into the budget on our first cruise but did this last time. I think I've turned into one of those cruise people!

4. Loved our verandah and will continue to book this way on future cruises.

5. Try to review the Navigator before we cruise in order to plan our activities a bit more.

6. Book a spa treatment.

7. Pack travel sizes of my Bath and Body Works stuff, full size takes up too much space and weigh more.

8. Pack extra Dermaplast - my sister used up a whole can just for herself.

9. Pack a shoe holder - I always have a lot of crap to organize.

Things I wouldn't do:

1. I wouldn't pack as much clothing. Oh, who am I kidding?? I say this every vacation. Hey, I like to have options.

2. Don't get sick. Yeah, like I really have control over that.

3. Don't book a cruise that is less than 7 nights. Loved the double dip but missed the extra sea days.
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Old 07-01-2012, 09:10 PM   #219
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I would not pack so many clothes We were in swim suites most of the time.
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Old 07-09-2012, 10:11 AM   #220
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Old 07-09-2012, 01:23 PM   #221
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Next time (different):

wake up 1 hr earlier everyday, get on the ship before my check in time, check the 1st day's navigator right away, spa treatment, Castaway beach cabana, send DS to kids club more often (he just went twice), go to adults area

Next time (same):

Skip sail away party, not wait for DH to meet characters, get off at Nassau about 3 hrs after docking and back on about 2 hrs prior to sailing away, Atlantis and lunch there, room service for one dinner, Palo dinner inside with dessert on the balcony under the moonlight, detective game, pirate dance party & fire works
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Old 07-11-2012, 09:13 PM   #222
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Old 07-11-2012, 11:11 PM   #223
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Staying wth Disney!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Strawberry's mom&dad View Post
Something I would like to try next time:
Stay awake past 9pm to experience some of the night time activities
We would second that!! We are early risers, taking photos, enjoying an empty ship early in the a.m. We will try to stay up for the fun after 9p.m. Missed it on the last TWO cruises!!
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Old 07-11-2012, 11:45 PM   #224
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Will Do:

Relax on Deck 4 teak loungers...one of my favorite things to do on every DCL cruise I've ever been on.

Get yummy coffee at Cove Cafe and have my card stamped for a free coffee!- after you buy 5 I think

Brunch at Palo (already booked it!)

Re-book while on board to get 10% off of my next cruise!

Order room service milk & cookies before bed

Skip a show if there's a good 1st run movie playing.

Have lunch in one of the main dining rooms (non buffet)


Won't Do:

Pirate night.... after 11 cruises I think I'd rather shop while everybody else is up there!

Spa treatments - paid way too much for my mani/pedi last time - and didn't appreciate the constant sales pitch to buy spa products.....plus the fact that the girl giving me the mani/ pedi tried to make me feel like there was something wrong with me because my cuticles were dry....Again, this all went back to sales pitch...."but, if you buy this $70 miracle cream you won't have dry cuticles".

Pay for an allotment of Internet minutes. I didn't use all if them last time so, now I'll just pay as I go.

Eat an appetizer, salad AND dessert at dinner. I think that a Salad and an entree are more than enough!
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Old 07-13-2012, 11:05 PM   #225
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